Coach Rider's 1974 Team stands test of time
In 1974, Dave Rider was returning to the sidelines after a year of being the school’s Athletic Director. Fifty-five boys were out for football, including seven seniors and twenty-eight sophomores. The Bulldogs were coming off a disappointing 2-7-1 record in 1973. There was a lot of hope around the ’74 team. Coach Rider was going to lean heavily on the talents of Steve Viney, Herman Clements, Kelly Crabtree, Fred Gillespie, and Calvin Cockrell. Stan Young would anchor the offensive line.
The team finished the ’74 season with a 6-3-1 record and outscored their opponents 297-175. The 29.7 points per game average still stands as the highest points per game average for a season in the history of Tazewell football.
Tazewell gained 265 total yards in their season opening win over Richlands. Running back Steve Viney scored two touchdowns in the win.
In week two, Tazewell’s prolific offense scored early and often as the Bulldogs trounced John Battle 46-0. The Bulldogs gained 492 yards on the ground as Kelly Crabtree and Herman Clements scored two touchdowns apiece in the win.
Tazewell dominated Grundy in week three of the season. The Bulldogs amassed 363 yards in the victory. Herman Clements and Stevey Viney scored two touchdowns each in the victory.
With more than 8,000 people in attendance at Mitchell Stadium, week four saw the Bulldogs jump out to a 21-6 halftime lead over the Graham G-Men. However, Graham pushed across two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a come from behind 24-21 win over the Bulldogs. Graham’s defense held Tazewell to 109 yards on the ground, but the Bulldogs connected on 6 of 7 passes for 162 yards. Calvin Cockrell caught two touchdown passes for the Bulldogs.
Big Creek held the Bulldogs to their lowest point total of the season, defeating Tazewell 18-6 in week five. Tazewell’s lone touchdown was scored by Herman Clements on a 34-yard run.
Herman Clements scored on a 26-yard touchdown run and Mike Watkins lofted a 34-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Cockrell, but it wasn’t enough as the Bulldogs tied winless Marion 14-14 on Homecoming night. The Bulldogs were held to 137 yards on the ground and 34 yards through the air.
In week seven, Tazewell fell to a Gate City team that was averaging over 50 points a game at the time of their meeting. Mike Watkins lofted a 49-yard pass to Calvin Cockrell and Robert Dennis added the extra point for Tazewell’s only points in the 69-7 loss to Gate City.
Tazewell amassed 349 yards rushing and 72 yards in the air as they routed Abingdon 55-12 in week eight. Kelly Crabtree and Herman Clements scored two touchdowns a piece and four other Bulldogs found the endzone on the night.
The Bulldogs were 4-3-1 when they hosted the Virginia High Bearcats in week nine. Tazewell was 0 for 6 throwing the football, but they more than made up for it by rushing for 343 yards. Kelly Crabtree scored two touchdowns at the Bulldogs whipped Virginia High 40-8.
The 1974 team entered the year’s final contest against Patrick Henry Glade Springs needing 34 points to become the highest scoring team in Tazewell High School history. At the time, the record was held by Robert “Bob” Miller’s 1962 squad. The ’62 team went 9-1 and scored 284 points.
In the final game of the season, Tazewell’s electrifying offense scored on runs of 81-yards (Crabtree) and 86-yards (Clements). Herman Clements also returned the opening kickoff 85-yards for a touchdown. With the help of these big plays, Tazewell defeated Patrick Henry 46-22. The 46 points allowed the 1974 Bulldogs to become the highest scoring team in the school’s history. The record breaking score was scored by Larry Rasnick on a 7-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
The 297 points would stand as the most points scored in a single season until 1992. That year, the 1992 Bulldogs scored 344 points in twelve games. The 344 points scored by Coach Dave Litz's Bulldogs still stands as the Tazewell High School record for the most points scored in a single season.